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Spaced Newbie Recap: “Back”

We're starting season two!

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And we’re back!

After a week or two (or three but who’s counting) of a Spaced break I’m ready to dive right in. The season begins with the status quo being shaken up a bit: Daisy returns home from a trip abroad, only to learn that Mike has moved in; Brian and Twist and dating, and have little time for anyone else; and, luckily, Marsha hasn’t changed one bit.

It’s a nice way to begin the season, changing up the arrangement enough for it to feel fresh without it feeling too different or unfamiliar to what made us such fans of the show in the first place.

It’s also a nice way of carrying over the end of season one (which showcased one of my favorite moments, period, with Tim and Daisy’s dance at the bar), giving us necessary exposition without it seeming like a boring rehash of events about which we already know. For example, we’d been told that Daisy had started writing again, so we get the carry-over from her earning enough money from her articles to be able to afford her trip abroad. We knew that Brian and Twist had gone on a first date, and now we know they’re officially together. It’s these natural progressions that keep the story moving forward and keep the characters in places where they’re able to reconnect by the episode’s end.

Unfortunately, despite the groundwork being laid nicely, it’s likely my least favorite episode due to an abundance of references that mildly date the show, and it takes a while for any momentum to stick. It’s fun to see Mark Gatiss pop up as such a small character, and, of course, it’s always great to see Daisy kick ass; but The Matrix references are fun for only about half a minute, overdone in 2015, and almost too obvious of a pop-culture reference. It wouldn’t have been that bad if such a large portion of the episode hadn’t been dedicated to it, since two government agents are after Daisy for the majority of the episode, searching for intel that she accidentally captured on tape on her trip.

The pop-culture gag that did work, however, was Tim burning Star Wars memorabilia after having seen The Phantom Menace. Sure, it was nearly a year since he’d seen it, but it still hurts. I can’t help but imagine many a fan nodding their head in enthusiasm.

The episode also nailed the awkward disconnect between Tim and Daisy after being apart for a while. Mike and Tim moving in together isn’t a surprise, but it still leaves Daisy flustered over the changed dynamic. I’ve noted before that, despite the often heightened reality setting that Spaced employs (such as the Matrix moments), Simon Pegg and Jessica Hynes really understand how friends talk to one another with subtlety and intellect. Moments like Daisy’s frustration over no one wanting to look at photos from her trip hit close to home, because who hasn’t a) been Daisy, and expect people to want to see pictures from a really cool trip, or b) been Tim, who could care less about 200 pictures of sightseeing? We’re all a little over-eager, sometimes, and also a little selfish. Honest moments like this aren’t a rarity on Spaced, and are one of the reasons I find it to be such a fun show.

We then get to juxtapose those moments of reality with scenes like Mike having changed Daisy’s decor into an Apocalypse Now homage. The hilarity in Spaced is how its high-concept plot lines are populated by such normal people. I’m still astonished at just how well I feel like I know Daisy, and it’s due in part to both Hynes’ performance, and the fact that I’ve met people like her. Big statement time: Daisy might be one of my all-time favorite characters in film and television.

Daisy having a tough time settling back into a perceived normalcy after her adventure also strikes a relatable chord. Coming home is both a comfort and sometimes a dissatisfaction after being away, and if there’s anything I like about the Matrix bits, it’s all of Daisy’s annoyance at the mundanity that manifests itself in these sequences. It’s a nice and playful touch.

Throughout most of this Twist, Brian and Marsha don’t get as much time as I’d like, and the show always benefits when it get’s its cast together to play off of one another. More than anything, “Back” reminds me of the the first episode of season one: it was fun, and it set up the characters and world nicely, but it didn’t truly delve into what makes the series so special.

I can’t believe this show only has two seasons!

Final Note: If you’ve been following these recaps, I apologize for calling Marsha, “Martha”, for so many of them. What a rookie mistake.  

Allyson Johnson is a twenty something writer and a lover of film and all things pop-culture. She’s a film and television enthusiast and critic over who spends too much of her free time on Netflix. Her idols are Jo March, Illana Glazer, and Amy Poehler. Check her out at her twitter@AllysonAJ or at The Young Folks.

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